How-To be Happily Married Recipes
A must read for every (serious) couple
By: J. Marlando
I have written a lot about marriage over the years and most recently a friend of mine told me that his granddaughter was getting married. He was concerned because he said, “So many marriages fail these days and life seems so much more complex and challenging now.” Well it is. When marriage was simple we had definite roles for husbands and wives—dad worked and made a living while mom tended to the house and kids. The demand for two-income families has changed the face of marriage. Staring in the 1960s women began making their presence known in the work place, in politics and in every aspect of society not excluding labor and management.
Maleness was no longer enough to take the lead and the “Father Knows Best” syndrome had gone the way of high-buckle shoes and Motel-T Fords. My old friend and I spent a long time talking about all this and finally he said, “It’s just too bad there’s not a happiness recipe that would give married couples a sure way of creating a great life for themselves. You know” he added, “you’ve written about all that’s tuff why don’t you write a how-to-be-married book?”
My friend was half joking but his question had put my mind to work. One reason why so many marriages fail, I thought, was because most people simply don’t know how to be married.”
I decided then and there to attempt to do just that—I would pen a how-to-be-married article. That attempt unfolds with the following narrative. I hope it serves to keep a lot of marriages together in a lasting, loving way. If you, the reader, find the below to be valuable, please pass it on.
What Marriage Isn’t
Marriage is not an institution of happiness and your mate is not responsible for your happiness either. The only one responsible for your happiness…is you.
Marriage is not an antidote for loneliness. Marriage does not magically merge a couple into the same reality.
We individuals each live in worlds of our own. We are two genders, from two different parents, from two different world experiences. There is not and never has been a two-peas-in-a-pod relationship. Guys and Gals are different!
Marriage in fact, has little to do with the romantic relationship of the married couple. Marriage is about acquisition and building a financially secure life together.
Indeed, marriage is not and never has been a mystical temple of commitment between lovers, symbolic or actual: It is a legal agreement between two people joining their efforts in the business of their relationship.
And so, “the marriage” must be organized, operated and supported no less than any other business endeavor if it is to be successful. A successful marital relationship can be greatly harmed by an unsuccessful marriage. This is why money problems can so easily destroy an otherwise happy, cohesive marital relationship.
Marriage, in most instances, is not a team effort but rather two people working toward the same goals in different ways. For example, Mom might take care of the house and kids while dad earns the living…or, both husband and wife have to different careers with each supporting the marriage from their earnings. This is why, in a marital relationship the couple needs to be both friends and lovers while in the marriage they need to be both partners and allies.
Love & Marriage
How many times have we heard some husband or wife say something like, we were so much in love and happy before we got married and now I feel like I’m living with a stranger.
We fall in love before marriage but typically that love is NOT pure as it is laced with lust. Lust is natural to the wooing process because it drives males and females to mate and nest.
Because we humans are such a complex species the old axiom proves absolutely true, you can’t know anyone until you have lived with them for a while. And anyway, before marriage we all tend to minimize the other’s faults, fears and frailties while after married, unless we are extremely conscientious, we tend to maximize them.
This is a reason why the experts say that the first three years of marriage reveal how lasting the marriage will be. By the end of the first 36 months we pretty much know what the other is really like since the persona (the mask we wear for others to see) is made transparent by familiarity.
The real loving begins AFTER marriage
An act of loving is when couples consciously learn to live with those differences. This means giving one’s mate the space to grow and to become more than he or she was before the marriage.
Remember, a husband and wife might both value the rose growing in the front yard, but they will NEVER value it the same or for the same reasons. This applies to the universe and everything in it and yet, some husbands and wives will make the tragic error of wanting their mates to be more like they are. In fact, the question that asks, why can’t you see things as I see them, is to invalidate the other’s worldview. Indeed, how we interpret life is always based on the totality of our experiences. And so, what is absolute for one may be fallacious to the other but even so, love refuses to belittle and strives to be a teacher of the heart and mind.
In fact, love in marriage means the willingness to be one another’s teacher and student at the same time.
Love in marriage is deciding to love our mates for whom they are as opposed to who (and what) we want them to be and finally to simply love them for being themselves.
As long as we believe that our mates need to change in order to make the marriage stronger, the weaker the marriage will become.
Remember the most vital act of love in marriage is what Karl Menninger taught us, he said, “It is part of the function of marriages for the partners to supply each other that amount of support and encouragement which is necessary to assuage the wounds and frustrations encountered in the daily lives of each.”
In this alone is the great secret of marriage…remembering always to be nice to each other!
The greatest enemy of a lasting marriage is blame. Blaming your mate for what is wrong in your relationship and/or your marriage is egocentric and self-serving. If you believe that your marriage needs positive change begin with you. If your changes are sincere and consistent your mate will eventually follow.
Never dwell on what or who caused financial problems, share ideas of what needs to be done to eliminate them. If you have no constructive ideas neither sorrow, anger or despair will change a thing.
Learn to fight your problems and NOT each other.
Never…never judge your mate by yourself. This is like asking for trouble since no two people interpret the world in the same way. Do your best to make your mate’s world as happy and content as you can without making value judgments on what he or she calls happiness and contentment.
Encourage your mate to enjoy playtime as much as possible. If your mate enjoys a recreation that you don’t, be willing to be an enthusiastic spectator. The moment you believe that marriage means doing everything together is when it begins to fall apart.
Avoid making marriage a stagnant experience. Find an interest that occupies you like painting, gardening, sewing, building, golf, tennis or you name it. Know always that it is not your mate’s job to fulfill you, only you can do this.
Support your mate’s interests even when they are not even remotely your own.
Never…never make the following coercive statements:
If you won’t go than neither will I
You’re not going unless I go
I’m going and so you’re going too
I’m not going, so neither are you
Marriage should NEVER be a surrendering of one’s independence but instead a strong support for growing one’s self-assurance and self-realization. When marriage stops a person from being wholly a self, that person begins to wither like an un-watered rose. Happiest is the couple who relishes in one another’s individual joys and accomplishments.
It has been written many times that familiarity is the thief of passion between couples when actually familiarity should be the great enhancer of marital sexuality.
The great secret of an exciting love life is not technique but…trust. Trust always begins outside the bedroom door. If one mate belittles or condemns or name calls the other, distrust occurs. After all, if I am not treated lovingly outside the bedroom, I will not be trusting of the “love” poured on me in the darkness behind the bedroom door.
Trust means knowing that my mate will not hurt me, will not judge me and knows all about me and loves me anyway, This too is the criterion for free and unencumbered intimacy in the marriage bed.
The Little Things
We have read a great deal about how important communicating is to a lasting marriage but in this there is even a more effective way of showing affection to one’s mate than giving long speeches either poetic or domestically political. It is the willingness to truly listen.
When one mate is overly anxious to share his or her views, his or her opinions, his or her feelings and his or her needs you will always find a couple who merely talks past each other.
It is generally easy to know when communication is lacking between couples because the response to what each other says will generally begin with, “Yes but…”
Yes but…let me tell you what I think (feel, believe, etc.)
What this means is clearly we have not been listening to our mates but rather we have been thinking and calculating in the guise of listening.
It is an activity of love to truly listen to one another and so to absorb one another’s concerns, interests, joys, fears, desires, ideas and…dreams. To hear these things with the desire to understand rather than judge is totruly listen and to truly listen is to truly share.
Remember there is not always a right or wrong and it is not always our job to validate or invalidate our mate’s motives and/or values; it is simply okay to be loving enough to listen…with an open mind and heart.
Marriage itself has all kinds of demands and limitations; both husbands and wives are condemned to a great many routines and obligations. It becomes essential then to be supportive of one’s another’s free time. That is, to give each other enough space to reclaim the experience of self-ness.
There is nothing more harmful, even tragic for a marriage then when one feels that he or she can’t look in the mirror without seeing the other in its reflection. And so, it is absolutely essential that husbands and wives have time to themselves to refresh their self-reliance and independence as individuals.
While, as already said, it is absolutely important to be nice to each other…we all need some time to do nice things just for ourselves too.
When you look at your mate with all his or her differences, never neglect to recognize your sameness at the same time: You are both living in the same world of uncertainty…you both bleed when you are cut…the lump in your throats can hurt the same and your tears are just as salty; you both want more than what you have, you are equally vulnerable to illness and accidents and you both want to be happy and content. And, beyond all else you both want to know that you are loving and lovable.
A DAILY RECIPE FOR A LOVING, LASTING RELATIONSHIP
A morning hug mixed with a gentle kiss
Add one whisper that says, I love you
Mix with a word of appreciation
Blend with a dash of praise
Marinate in kindness
And For those who like extra spice
You know what to do
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